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Over 500 Students Walk Out in Fresno

by Mike Rhodes (MikeRhodes [at]
Hundreds of students from multiple high schools in Fresno walked out today in protest of HR 4437. The students marched to City Hall where they held a rally.
Over 500 Students Walk Out in Fresno
By Mike Rhodes

I got the call at about 10 AM - “Dad, there is a huge walk out at school and I’m going over the fence with them!” That was my daughter calling. She is a student at Fresno High. By the time I grabbed my camera and got to the scene of the march the students were half way downtown. With fire trucks with their lights flashing trying to catch up, cops on motorcycles and in cars stopping traffic, hundreds of students had taken over the street and were moving toward City Hall. They did not confine themselves to one lane or the sidewalk. These kids had taken over both lanes of Palm Avenue, a main artery to downtown Fresno.

At a pace three times as fast as any “peace march” I have ever been on, the students were chanting and sometimes running toward their destination. They chanted “Mexico, Mexico, Mexico,” then “The People United Will Never Be Defeated,” and also “Hell No, We Won’t Go.” I had to ask a couple of them what the last chant was about. Was this an immigrant rights march or had they shifted gears to protest the war in Iraq? The answer was “we won’t be sent back to Mexico.”

This was a fast paced, student led walkout to protest the proposed legislation that is being debated in Congress - HR 4377. As the students converged on Fresno City Hall the word came that this was not the only walk out by High School students in town. Students from two other schools were on their way to downtown Fresno. In addition to the Fresno High contingent, there were students coming from Roosevelt and Edison High. Later, students from Reedley and Buchanan High, both schools in the area reportedly walked out too.

This was not a Latino only march - there was significant participation by African American and Anglo students. At a short rally at City Hall students shouted (without a megaphone) to the crowd why they were there. They were outraged at the unfairness of the immigration bill. An African American student got on the impromptu stage and said, to thunderous applause, that he was in support of immigrant rights. “Immigrant Rights are Human Rights!”

After the rally, school administrators brought in buses to return the students to their schools. Bob Reyes, principal of Fresno High said that he had no plans to discipline the students for this incident. Reyes even suggested that there was value in the students participating in this peaceful march and rally that is addressing an important social issue.

There was a very visible police presence but there were no incidents.

There is another walkout and rally planned for Tuesday, March 28 at 9 AM at the new Federal Building in downtown Fresno.

For more information about immigrant rights events in Fresno contact:

Coalicion por los Derechos de los Immigrantes del Valle de San Joaquin
453 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93701
Ph. (559) 498-6033
Fax 497-0206

For student organizing issues, contact:

Californians for Justice
2014 Tulare Avenue Suite 718
Fresno, CA 93721
Ph: 443-1394
Fax: 433-1343
bernardo [at]
All photos by Mike Rhodes
§Two Amigos
by Mike Rhodes (MikeRhodes [at]
The student on the left told me he was there because of his moral values of fairness.
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Tue, Oct 14, 2008 9:44PM
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